The Patriots pulled out a win with some last minute heroics by Tom Brady to drive down the field for an Adam Vinatieri field goal as they beat the Atlanta Falcons 31-28. "This is a team that believes a lot in itself, you know, even if other people don't," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "You have to give all the credit in the world to the players, to come down here and beat a good football team. Every game is important, every win is important. I don't rank them, but it's certainly a good one." Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant, Tom Curran of the Providence Journal and Tom Pedulla of USA Today offer a recap of the game.
Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald writes that Deion Branch had eight catches for 107 yards in the Patriots victory over the Falcons but it was a non-catch by Branch that helped to set up the game winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri. As the Patriots were driving down the field late in the fourth quarter, Brady threw to Deion Branch who was running a deep route and was overmatched by Falcons cornerback Allen Rossum. Rossem broke up the pass but was called for pass interference which advanced the ball 30 yards to the Falcons 44. "It was crazy seeing all them flags, and it was a big play," said Branch. "The big play was the one I didn't catch, and I was able to put our team in a better position. I had him set up. It was either I'm going to catch it or he's going to get pass interference."
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that Patriots tight ends Daniel Graham and Benjamin Watson played a big part of the offense combining for a total of six catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Graham's touchdown came as Brady faked a screen pass to his left, then turned right and flipped a short toss to Graham. After hurdling his blocker, Graham stomped 45 yards down the Falcons sideline, all but crushing safety Bryan Scott in the process. "I just wanted to give him something for being in the way," Graham said. "I didn't hear anything. I'm just trying to hit anything in the way. I feel like I'm not going to let the first person take me down." Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe, Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald and Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle also report on the effort of the Patriots tight ends.
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that Corey Dillon had a milestone day topping the 100 yard mark for the first time this season in yesterday's 31-28 victory. Dillon finished the day with 23 carries for 106 yards and eclipsed 10,000 yards for his career with his 81st yard. Dillon had been hearing from the media that he's too old and offered this response. "I'm too old to have 10K under my belt," he told reporters assembled near his locker. "I'm sorry, I can't talk. You'll have to flip to the almanac for guys over 30, and look for some quotes there."
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots defense held the Atlanta Falcons to just 116 yards rushing which was nearly 100 yards under the Falcons season average. But Falcons QB Matt Schaub in place of injured Michael Vick torched the Patriots secondary for 298 passing yards and three touchdowns."We need to be more consistent on defense," linebacker Willie McGinest said. "We're still giving up too many big plays."
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe and Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald report that during the final team meeting Saturday, Bill Belichick showed the team a tape of the 1985 fight between boxers Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Thomas Heams which is considered the greatest eight minutes in boxing history. Belichick used the tape to illustrate the battle they faced against the Falcons and to inspire the team. "Bill compared that fight to the situation we were going to find ourself in today," linebacker Larry Izzo said. "I thought it was pretty dead accurate. It was going to be a street fight. We needed to come out swinging first, which we did, knowing they'd hit us back, which they did. I get thrills watching that fight. It's the greatest fight I've ever seen. I thought it was perfect. It put us in the right frame of mind for how to play this game."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his analysis of the Patriots win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald writes that Tom Brady talked tough last week defending his team against comments made by both the media and San Diego Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer. He quieted doubters with yet another bounce-back win with a three-touchdown, 350-yard masterpiece. "Like I said earlier in the week," said Brady, "You can keep betting against us. That's fine by us." Jackie MacMullan of the* Boston Herald* also offers a similar article.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.